Leo's Answers #191 – August 11, 2009

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Leo Notenboom


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*** New Articles

What does “If you change a file name extension, the file may become unusable” mean?

Recently been having a problem when I try to rename a picture or an icon, the following message appears: “If you change a file name extension, the file may become unusable”. I have lost pictures when I went ahead and ignored the message. Why am I suddenly having this problem?


I don’t know why you’re suddenly having the problem, but I do know what the problem is.

You actually haven’t lost your pictures – you’ve just removed the information that tells Windows what to do with them.

Continue reading: What does “If you change a file name extension, the file may become unusable” mean?

* * *

Does the browser store passwords in cookies?

Do IE browser cookies store my password? For example, if someone once logged into my webmail account and saved the cookie on his computer. Will he still be able to access the account using the old cookie if I later changed my password?


It’s time again for one of my most common answers: it depends.

It depends, mostly, on what webmail service you’re using.

Regardless, you may very well be at risk – not only for web mail, but any account that requires you to login.

Continue reading: Does the browser store passwords in cookies?

* * *

My ISP has placed a bandwidth cap on my connection. What should I do?

My ISP recently informed me that my “unlimited” high speed DSL is going to be capped at 5GB/month. They go on to say the unlimited provision still applies “for internet browsing, e-mail and intranet access.” Reading the fine print in the new contract I see that it expressly forbids streaming of videos, downloading of music, videos or games, hosting broadcasts or internet phone use.

You posted a video (part 1) of how to install Acronis as part of a backup plan. I watched the video. Does that count against my 5GB/month limit? Suppose I have to watch an instructional video several times to jot down info? How can I know exactly how much bandwidth I’m ABOUT to use before actually watching the streaming video, downloading the music or video, etc? I read your article about using perfmon but that seems to track usage after-the-fact.

Are all ISPs moving in this direction (to cap bandwidth)? Any words of wisdom?


Bandwidth caps are nothing new, but they do seem to be becoming more common. I’ve not actually heard of it on a hardwired DSL connection, but it doesn’t surprise me, I guess. It’s much more common in the wireless world – my mobile broadband connection, for example, has that same 5GB/month bandwidth cap.

There are aspects of what you describe that have me sincerely hoping that you misread or misinterpreted the contract. If not, it’s one of the most draconian set of limitations that I’ve ever run across. So much so that if it’s exactly as you describe I’d drop that ISP in a heartbeat.

But to be fair, while we might question their tactics to address it, ISPs are facing a difficult problem.

Continue reading: My ISP has placed a bandwidth cap on my connection. What should I do?

* * *

Installing Backup Software

There are several possible backup utilities that can be used to backup your computer, ranging from Windows own included backup utility, to a wide variety of commercial and other packages.

I happen to use and recommend Acronis TrueImage Home, and will use it for this video series on how to backup your computer. Even if you don’t happen to use Acronis, many of the concepts I’ll demonstrate will be similar, though the specific details will vary – often dramatically.

We start … with an installation.

Continue reading: Installing Backup Software

* * *

Just what service packs do I need?

I’m running Windows XP Pro, Service Pack 2. When Service Pack 3 came out several months ago, I dutifully installed it and several of my apps quit working or didn’t work properly. So, in my usual “I hate MS” fit of anger, I restored to a good SP2 version and checked “Don’t bother me about this update again” on the Windows Auto Update site.

I still get a nagging reminder occasionally, but I choose not to install. My concern is whether or not I’m spiting myself by leaving myself vulnerable without SP3. Assuming I have a decent firewall, AV software, and security checker software, and I run Malicious Software Removal tool every Wednesday morning, I’d like your thoughts on this matter.


I agree that the whole service pack situation can be both frustrating and confusing. In an ideal world we’d just use “always update to the latest” as the rule of thumb, and all would or should be well. Sadly, it’s not an ideal world.

Unfortunately, software vendors, including both Microsoft and third party vendors, often need to set a minimum required installation as something that their additional software can rely on.

Let’s look at the bare minimum, and what you should be at least attempting to do.

And some thoughts on how it might be before the rules will, of necessity, change.

Continue reading: Just what service packs do I need?

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*** Comments

A sampling of some of the comments that have been posted recently on Ask Leo!

* * *

How do I get un-banned from a site?

Moo Kahn writes:

Let me see… you’re a parent who is OK with your kid giving out ASL information on the ‘net. So OK with it in fact, you’re going to the ends of the earth to try and get “him” reinstated. If this is true, YOU should be banned… from parenting. There are a couple of lessons here 1)ASL is not something you give out to strangers online, in any situation…and…. 2)Your actions have consequences… suck it up and don’t do it again.

Going to an online help site for advice to help your rogue son out either paints you as a meddling parent, or a complete fool, and I don’t buy it.

But could it possibly be, sir, that “your son” is really YOU?

Setting aside the possible subterfuge, you’re assuming that kids can’t learn. I disagree. It’s totally possible that the kid made a mistake, has suffered appropriate consequences and/or “learned his lesson”, and acknowledging that his parent wants to get him back on. Seems just as possible as any scenario you’ve described. “One strike and you’re out” isn’t always the best approach.



Is it safe to perform maintenance on a recovery partition?

Griffg writes:

My HP laptop has Windows XP and a recovery partition.

I’m wondering what happens when I install Windows 7.

Does the recovery partition now recognize Windows 7 or does it default back to Windows XP?

I believe recovery partitions are unaffected by any installs, and thus are left with whatever they had before. In a case like this I believe it renders the recovery partition with XP useless once the machine has been upgraded to a different version of Windows like 7.



My ISP has placed a bandwidth cap on my connection. What should I do?

Chris writes:

I seem to find those kinds of limitations to only be guidelines. You probably can stream video, play games, etc, without that much worry but you cant do it 24/7….

For example, if your ISP sees you get to 8GB 1 month, they probably wont care… 11GB, maybe still no….. I wouldn’t really worry about it for just regular use.. Not unless they explicitly charge you for every MB you go over…

ISPs like Optimum Online actually cap things like your upload speed to 15KB/s if they see you uploading too much. Nowhere do they say how much their target is, but they do say its prohibited to use your connection in this type of way and its still their right to cap you.

It’s pretty funny, but I tend to dump those types of ISPs although they “say” they are unlimited and promote a certain speed, yet go back and end up capping you if you use it too much. It’s not worth it… There are plenty of real Unlimited ISPs in the US (not so much in European countries I believe, but still some).

I would be very careful about ignoring bandwidth caps as merely guidelines. Your ISP could cancel your service, or as in the case of some, charge you an exorbitant rate for the amount you go over your limit.


*** Leo Recommends

Seagate FreeAgent Go – Portable USB External Harddrive

I currently own five of these.

If that isn’t a recommendation I don’t know what is.

One of the problems with recommending a specific disk drive is that drives change, capacities increase and what I might tell you about today may not even be available next year. The external drive I recommended some years ago is no longer even being made.

With that having been said, today the FreeAgent Go is an incredibly handy and valuable device.

The version I use has a capacity of 500 Gigabytes, all in a package that’s smaller than a paperback book.

Continue reading: Seagate FreeAgent Go – Portable USB External Harddrive


Each week I recommend a specific product or resource that I’ve found valuable and that I think you may as well. What does my recommendation mean?

*** Popular Articles

A common misconception among the users of various word processing programs.

Why does my Microsoft Word document display differently on different computers?

I have a document which was created in Word XP and is 226 pages. When I send it to a client who is using Word 2003, it looks totally different and is over 330 pages. How can I send the client the document without it changing? Also, they wanted a pdf version, which looks nothing like the word document. How can I get the word document to look like the pdf?

Well, to be honest, you’re trying to do something that Word documents aren’t really intended to do. As counter-intuitive as it sounds Word isn’t really about making the document look exactly the same everywhere.

But your client is on the right track, actually, since that’s what PDF files attempt to do.

In a nutshell: it’s all about the system, and the printer.

Continue reading…
Why does my Microsoft Word document display differently on different computers?

*** Thoughts and Comments

Happy birthday to me! Happy birthday to me!

OK, ok, not >me<, actually, but to Ask Leo!

August 10, 2003 is the date that the first question was answered.

Nearly 2,000 articles and over 77,000 newsletter subscribers later, here we are, going strong.

As always, I am deeply grateful to all of you for being here, for supporting Ask Leo!, for subscribing to the newsletter, for your thoughtful comments and words of wisdom. It’s hard to see sometimes, but you’re an important part of the Ask Leo! equation, and I appreciate it immensely.

And, as I do each year, I’ve rounded up the “questions you didn’t see” – the strange, the wacky, the odd – exactly as submitted, with the response I wish I could have given. The collection, along with links to the prior year’s collections, is out on my personal blog: leo.notenboom.org. Enjoy.

(As a side note, so as not to overwhelm you with random and assorted celebrations, I’ll try not to get too excited when we publish issue #200 of this newsletter in a couple of months, or the four year anniversary of the newsletter in November. I’ll try. No promises, though. Smile)

’till next time…

Leo A. Notenboom

You’re the man and your site rocks, that’s pretty much all I wanted to say.
– Rob

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Posted: August 11, 2009 in: 2009
Shortlink: https://newsletter.askleo.com/3835
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